Sydneynov1

Why go?

Why not go? As northern hemisphere summer leaks into autumn, the mercury’s rising down under – and Sydney is an unmissable starting point. Like other showstoppers – Cape Town, Rio, Vancouver – it has been generously endowed by nature, but there’s far more to the city than the harbour and coast. With iconic architecture, world-famous chefs – Neil Perry, Peter Gilmore and Mark Best – and serious hotels, it blends a cosmopolitan vibe with easy-going charm, offering a startling range of excursions and al fresco events to fully exploit the glorious surroundings.

What to do

Starting early’s a good idea. Head to the throbbing fish market (sydneyfishmarket.com.au) at 7am for the daily auction – the second largest variety of fish sold on earth after Tokyo. While you’re there check out the Seafood School’s highly rated cooking tuition, including an aussie BBQ masterclass. Move on to Circular Quay, the hub for ferries to Manly, from where you can reach the excellent northern beaches including Curl Curl, Freshwater and Palm (Bondi lies on the other side of the harbour entrance, among the East beaches). You can also catch one of several leisure cruises (http://sydneyferries.nsw.gov.au or captaincook.com.au) that float past the harbour’s photogenic riot of coves, bays and islands. Circular Quay’s also a great point from which to explore the shops and pubs of the historic Rocks District – sip some amber nectar on the roof of the 1920s Glenmore Hotel – and the Botanical Gardens: 30 lush hectares on the site of the first farm on the Australian continent. It’s also an easy hit to visit Sydney Opera House: five giant slices of architectural fruit floating above the water at Bennelong Point – home to a cathedral-like concert hall. Away from the shore, taste the cafés, nightspots and fashion boutiques of Oxford Street, the gorgeous iron-lace verandas of Paddington, and the epic 360-degree views from the Sydney Tower (http://sydneytowereye.com.au). At 268m it’s twice the height of the Harbour Bridge – thrilling evidence that Sydney’s famous coat hanger is more fun to look at than it is to climb.

Where to stay

Cool contemporary design climbs into bed with classic Victorian heritage at The Medusa (00 61 293 311 000, http://medusa.com.au). Its theatrical splashes of colour and funky furniture come with a super-convenient location in part-edgy, part-gentrified Darlinghurst. Alternatively, mix your light-washed Aussie interiors with glorious views of the harbour foreshore at Blue Sydney (00 61 293 319 000, http://tajhotels.com) on Woolloomoolloo Wharf. The century-old wool and cargo facility now blends original architectural features with eclectic modern style, with its hip WaterBar all steel benches, grand ottomans and a crystal curtain. To keep the views but drop the prices, try one of the permanently established tents on the north shore of Cockatoo Island in the Parramatta River (00 61 288 989 774, http://cockatooisland.gov.au).

Where to eat and drink

Melbourne might claim the crown of the southern hemisphere’s restaurant capital, but Sydney’s hot on its heels. Rockpool Bar & Grill (00 61 280 781 900, http://rockpool.com), part of Oz superchef Neil Perry’s empire, serves highly-rated seafood and meat in the towering marble hall of a 1936 art deco skyscraper. Less dramatically, Assiette (00 61 292 127 979, http://restaurantassiette.com.au) offers acclaimed yet affordable French-influenced cuisine in the inner suburb of Surry Hills. Chef Warren Turnbull’s glowing reputation has been garnered by dishes including roasted leg of venison with boudin blanc. For food on the hoof, head to the Woolloomooloo waterfront, where celebrities join the queue for meat pies, gravy and mash at what was apparently the world’s first food van, Harry’s Café de Wheels.

Time running out?

The city’s pretty amazing at sea level – but utterly extraordinary from the air. For a jaw-dropping panorama, take a 30-minute spin with Sydney Helicopters (http://sydneyhelicopters.com.au). Splash an extra £40 and chopper over the north coast beaches – a flight guaranteed to induce severe lifestyle envy …

Map

Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency in Sydney is the Australian dollar (£1 = 1.5 AUD). Sydney is ten hours ahead of GMT, and the flight time from London is around 23 hours, including a stopover.

Getting There

Qantas (http://qantas.co.uk) and British Airways (http://britishairways.com) both fly daily from London Heathrow via a stopover in Singapore.

Resources

Sydney tourism office (http://sydney.com) is a great resource for planning your trip.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min Temp181817141198911131517
Max Temp262625221916161720222325
mm344334232232

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